A while back, during a visit to ABC’s The View, in the course of a debate over the housing of a Muslim community center in a building two blocks from “Ground Zero”, Fox cable news commentator Bill O’Reilly (the highest-rated of his ilk on cable television) asserted that “The Muslims attacked us on 9/11”, igniting a “protest walk-out” by The View “regulars” Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg.
The following thought process does not occur often but, subsequent to that event, I fantasized about what I would have done if I had been a woman commentator on The View. This is quite an imaginative leap, as I am not a commentator on The View, I am not a woman (a The View-commentator prerequisite) and, in fact, the only place I commentate, or likely ever will commentate, is right here. And only then – mercifully – on occasion.
Still, a blogger can dream. And so I did. There I was, sitting on the couch in front of the cameras – not in women’s clothing; I have my dignity – and, as Whoopi and Joy are rising to depart, I raise my hand, and I stop them.
I beseech them to sit.
And then I speak.
“I have two things to say. One. If, because all of the people who attacked us on September the Eleventh were Muslims, it is appropriate to say, ‘The Muslims attacked us on September the Eleventh’, then, because all of the priests who molested the little boys were Catholic, it is similarly appropriate to say, ‘The Catholics molested the little boys.’ Of course, it is wrong in both cases, the mistake being blaming an entire group for the despicable actions of a minute number of its members. However, if you, in fact, believe there is nothing wrong with the first assertion, then there is equally nothing wrong with the second.
Two. Cable news is a business. And the purpose of business is the maximizing of profits. In cable news, the tried-and-true method of maximizing your profits is for their commentators to express their opinions in the most provocative, extreme and inflammatory manner possible. If you don’t, you are Aaron Brown, and you’re cancelled. Therefore, when Bill O’Reilly maligns more than a billion and a half Muslims for the behavior of nineteen of its members, we must not blame Bill O’Reilly. He is simply – and spectacularly successfully – doing his job.
Why didn’t you write about this when it happened?
These thoughts didn’t come to me until later.
Why didn’t you write about them when they came to you?
I didn’t think it would make any difference.
So why are you writing about this now?
Stop badgering me, will ya? Geez! You give people “Italics Privileges”, and they climb all over you!
(AFTER A BREATH)
There was a pebble in my shoe.
And I needed to get it out.
Are you happy now?
I’m afraid to talk anymore.